The Valley Line: Guests celebrate 50th Showcase House of Design; Showcase media party

What a thrilling celestial event we had last week with the spectacular "Blood Moon" eclipse. I must have been a sight to behold as I stood in my driveway in my pajamas with my binoculars around my neck and my camera in hand. I guess my neighbors weren't as tuned in as I was because I didn't run into any of them roaming the neighborhood — lucky them.

Just in case you missed this lunar spectacle, you will have another chance because in October there will be another total lunar eclipse. Unfortunately that one won't be red. I just love Mother Nature when she decides to be so dramatic!


Speaking of dramatic, it was just that when the membership of the Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts invited guests to celebrate the opening of the 50th Showcase House of Design with a gala premiere party.

Nearly 300 guests, the ladies in beautiful gowns and the gentlemen wearing tuxedos, gathered first for a champagne reception at the English Country estate featured this year, a house that is 100 years old.

The party then moved on to another historic private and elegant Pasadena club for cocktails and dining. The buzz was of course about the house and favorite design areas.

Guests nibbled on passed appetizers and sipped cocktails whipped up by mixologists in the club's garden before the dinner gong sounded.

Dining at this club is such a lovely experience and the food prepared by their chef is always perfection. The menu that night began with a salad of vine-ripened tomatoes with fresh Burrata cheese with crispy pancetta. It was dressed with extra virgin olive oil, aged balsamic and basil pesto. The entree was a divine herb crusted beef tenderloin with a cabernet sauce served with roasted fingerling potatoes, haricot vert and baby carrots. The dessert was a flourless chocolate cake and chocolate ganache garnished with flecks of gold and a white chocolate embellishment that stated "50th."

Donna Gotch, president of the group, stepped to the microphone to welcome guests and she introduced Mary Ann Clayton, this year's benefit chair. Clayton presented her core team of Marti Farley, her assistant; Karol Franks, interior chair; and Karen Butcher and Annette Sellon, exterior chairs. Also called up front and center were past benefit chairs. Also introduced were Debra Scott and Vicki Liske, chairs of the premiere party who did a superb job.

Also in the spotlight was Fran Biles, who is chair of the new coffee table book, "50 Years of Pasadena Showcase Design Houses: Supporting the Arts Through Design." The book is on sale now and it is absolutely exquisite.

Florist Mary Falkingham, a longtime contributor to Showcase, created the stunning floral arrangements that graced each table.

After dinner the party heated up and the dance floor was crowded as guests danced to the lively tunes played by the band Film at Eleven.

This premiere party was a stunning way to introduce this 50th Pasadena Showcase House of Design. As a party favor each guest took home a delightful gold-framed clock with a tag that said, "2014 Fifty Years! — 26,297,438 minutes — Thank you!"


Party time at the house continues on. On Sunday, April 13, the organization held a "Media Party" at the house after opening day that saw record crowds.

The party was beautifully co-chaired by LCF resident Jennifer Walston-Johnson, Joy Sullivan, and Mona Mapel.

Gotch introduced Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard and his wife Claire as well as La Cañada Flintridge Mayor Michael Davitt and his wife Alison. Bill Bogaard presented a proclamation to the organization and commended them on their philanthropic efforts over the years. This year $685,000 gifts and grants will be given to a multitude of schools, orchestras, choral groups and other nonprofit organizations.

It was a delightful party as guests first toured the house and strolled the beautiful grounds. Yes, the guests were introduced to past benefit chairs — 40 of them were present, four of whom are LCF residents: Delise Menik, Vicki McCluggage, Walston-Johnson and Kathryn Hofgaarden.

Peggy Dark and the Kitchen for Exploring Foods catered the event with an array of delicious hors d'oeuvres, two delightful soups, open face sandwiches and other goodies.

Biles stepped to the podium to talk about the book that has taken more than two years and thousands of hours to create. The book unveils intriguing facts about 50 of the most magnificent homes in the San Gabriel Valley, several of them are right here in La Cañada Flintridge.

These women of Showcase know how to do a party right and everything was so well done. The Showcase house will be open to the public through May 11 — don't miss it!


JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Email her at with news of your special event.

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